Development of our staff members is critical to sustainability and growth of our animal training programs. A variety of opportunities are provided to our staff to maintain a progressive enrichment program. Two courses are required for all animal care staff, Training and Enrichment Methods and Training Methods II.
Training and Enrichment Methods is an introductory course providing new staff with an overview of the Behavioral Husbandry program which includes philosophy, S.P.I.D.E.R. framework, process expectations, and brief introduction to basic enrichment and training methods.
Training Methods II is designed to take a closer look at the science of behavior and its applications in animal training. This course highlights specific concepts that are the foundation to a deeper understanding of behavior modification, including: learned associations, stimulus control, consistency, reinforcement strategies, bridging stimulus, and building trusting relationships.
Workshops are developed and offered to staff or to individual teams when requested. Workshop topics have included hands-on building of enrichment, blending enrichment into the habitats and enrichment brainstorming sessions.
Enrichment Development Group
The Enrichment Development Group was formed to offer staff an opportunity to learn a variety of specific skills to create and develop progressive, innovative enrichment initiatives. Often, animal care staff has amazing enrichment ideas but lack the skills, tools or resources to develop these ideas into tangible initiatives. For example, we may want to build an automatic feeder on a timer that dispenses different types of food items but get stuck in the production phase when we can only find products that dispense dry food items. The group of individual members are from a variety of teams and backgrounds. They were interviewed and each brought special skills such as engineering, construction, metal work, electronics and art to the group so that they could learn from one another. Partnerships with other departments allowed the group to gain skills in areas that were otherwise difficult to develop. The group has started teaching their own teams the skillsets that they have learned and applying techniques in the animal care areas.